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A Galactic Gem - Astroneer Review

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Astroneer has held a strange niche in the genre of space survival games since its release. Update after update, the game has become a truly unique experience, both by yourself and with others. The new Switch release has placed the spotlight back onto this one-of-a-kind crafting game, so let’s evaluate how well-earned that spotlight is.

Platforms: PC [Reviewed], PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Developer: System Era Softworks
Publishers: System Era Softworks, Gearbox Publishing
Release: December 16, 2016
MSRP: $29.99

A game in space should involve space travel as the norm, but Astroneer destroys that expectation very quickly by focusing on the environments and planets within the game. You can choose which planets to go to, but you cannot manually control the ship, which drastically changes the focus from an early point.

This is grating for some who expect the typical spaceship design and battling of a typical space game, but this is no typical game. The world you start on is a canvas that can be modified in any way you want using your terrain tool.

Astroneer Intro Quest

Is the canvas fulfilling though? The presentation is a mixed bag, since frequent glitches involving the terrain system can make travel frustrating at times. Yet, once the world is at least somewhat tame, excellent sound design and the colorful environments make every trip into the unknown a fascinating and relaxing sensory experience.

And, once exploration becomes less profitable, the average player can switch straight into a strange yet streamlined Factorio-esque management game. This builds off of and into exploration in a gameplay cycle that is extremely addicting. Vehicles make travel easier but present their own problems of fuel and preservation.

Astroneer Finding Research Items

A player’s first rover is still an immaculate and pure work of effort and exploration that changes the game completely. The chains of oxygen tethers are removed at the exact right point for a new player to get hooked onto the rest of the game. This is a great characterization of Astroneer: small but important steps that feel great and achievable to reach.

Although the late game can get dull, a long and exciting mid game and early game creates a sense of curiosity that, complimented by its presentation, makes every glitch in the terrain a forgivable offense. Yes, being bad at the game will kill you and it is unreasonably easy to be bad, but it leaves you with a desire to keep coming back no matter how many resources are lost on a failed trip.

Astroneer Inventory Small Printer

The multiplayer has always been a bit unstable, and long term sessions even with a small number of players will require 2-3 server restarts to keep everything stable. Yet, syncing between all players a world of infinite creativity that isn’t just blocks is a remarkable achievement and the option of multiplayer allows for cooperation that very few other games can create.

Overall, Astroneer is an addicting, yet unstable, glimpse into a unique survival genre. Stick with it for a full playthrough and you won’t regret it. And, hey, if that isn’t your thing, they did add small collectible pets in the most recent update, so there is that.


  • Unique presentation of space survival
  • Incredible progression system
  • Addicting with friends
  • Management and exploration gameplay together
  • Many creative options during play
  • Genuinely fun and relaxing


  • Unstable during multiplayer play
  • Difficult to run on many computers
  • Dying can feel terrible and unfair
  • Lack of compelling spaceship-based gameplay
  • Little late-game content




Great games are generally good buying decisions and are recommended for those with an interest in the genre. There might be a few flaws that detract from the gameplay, stories, controls, presentations, or value, but the game is still an enjoyable experience that justifies a full playthrough.

Want to know what this score means? Check out our Scoring Guidelines page.

About the Author: Collin Westbrook

Collin Westbrook joined in 2010 to help with Zelda Castle, and has since rejoined the staff multiple times throughout Nintendo Castle's existence. He is a lover of strategy games, platformers, and everything Nintendo. Look out for him editing guides, writing articles, and helping the site in whatever way he can.

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